“Olfactarama” is three years old this week. Writing it has taught me a lot about infatuation.
I know that infatuation is, essentially, huge amounts of neurotransmitters being released in the brain in response to, well, something, another person usually. It’s one of the most powerful forces that exists. Millions of songs and poems, books and essays, have been written because of it and millions more will be. It’s that strange combo of joy, longing, lightheadedness and giddiness, those qualities often called “love.” But if the object of one’s infatuation withdraws, then it’s misery. The mind struggles to regain that high. Sometimes the result is obsession, with all its humiliation and destructiveness; sometimes merely a roller-coaster ride through Hell.
(Ok, so maybe I’m not exactly what you’d call a romantic.)
I get infatuated with subjects. I get this extreme need to learn everything about whatever the subject is. It’s actually my best quality -- my favorite one anyway; I’ve learned lots of stuff this way. It’s a little sad when it leaves me, but I’ll retain what I learned (I hope). With the big subjects -- like perfume -- there is always more to know.
At the moment, I’m turning more towards the essences and molecules that build fragrances. (I know, I know, the pros use patented bases I couldn’t get if I tried, etc.) I want to understand perfumery in depth, how certain essences form accords while others duke it out in the bottle forever, why some things are fleeting and so on. I’m making things in the process, but I doubt they’ll see much light of day, except, perhaps, on my own skin and that of my more tolerant friends. It is the process that is fascinates me now.
Initially, I thought that if I could get familiar with the essences enough to nail the damned “notes” that it would help me become a better evaluator, a better critic, better blogger. This fascination with process has really come out of left field, as that say, and I’m truly surprised. But I guess the ability to surprise one’s self is one of the things that keeps us vital and alive.
Infatuations tend to last two or so years at the most, and that’s true, for this one, too. I’m no longer swapping madly and waiting impatiently for the mailman and the UPS truck or spending too much on Our Favorite Online Auction Site or ripping packages open when I’m barely through the door. I kind of miss that high. But my thoughts and explorations of fragrance now are more relaxed, and I don’t mind taking my time.
I guess my infatuation has deepened into true love.
So I’m thinking about a different kind of delving, of elements, experiments, associations; a calmer, more stretched-out way of thinking about fragrance and smell, this perfect springboard into the exploration of the senses, of memory; sense memory, too. It makes sense now.
I know that many of you are writers and forum participants too. Where are you in your own trajectory?
(The photo is taken from an old Bal a Versailles ad, the classic perfume that was the subject of my first post. Because Bal is one of those that seems to be an olfactory chameleon -- some say leather, some amber, some Oriental, some floral -- I think the multiple mirrors are perfect.)